- SCU Home Page
- About SCU
- On Campus
- News & Info
State of the University Address, 2014
The What, The How, and The Where To
Thank you, Dennis, for the introduction, and congratulations Judith, for your engaging remarks. I also appreciate the invocation of Ana Maria Pineda, R.S.M., and the inspiring music of our Chamber Singers under the direction of Scot Hanna Weir. Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you for attending this year’s State of the University address.
Given all that has happened this year, I have reflected about the goals and ideals of a university, and this institution in particular. Two of the articles I read helped me gain some perspective, as they focused on expectations of a president. The first was an essay by Fr.Bill Rewak S.J., former president and now chancellor of Santa Clara. The article he wrote some years ago described the “perfect” college president as one who:
"f) is in the field of education because of a wish to work with students, and spends all available time with alumni, benefactors, corporate presidents, and parents who complain about…how the president isn’t spending more time with students… .
o) has a number one priority of increasing funding for academic programs, another number one priority of raising money for financial aid, another number one priority of raising money for residence halls, and a final number one priority of building a successful [athletic program] football team.” 1
Another former president, Herman Wells of Indiana University, summarized the ideal university president as one who combines “the physical charm of a Greek athlete, the cunning of Machiavelli, the wisdom of Solomon, the courage of a lion, the skin of a rhino…and the stomach of a goat.” 2
Each of you could imagine your own conceptions of the perfect professor, the perfect staff colleague or administrator, or the perfect student. We could go even further and imagine the ideal, problem-free university. Or, we could more productively consider the realities of what we have accomplished here at Santa Clara, how we have done all this, and where we are headed. I suggest that we direct our attention to what we do here so well and what we have achieved, how we do all that we do, and the amazing trajectory that arcs before us to the future: The What, The How, and The Where To. Let me share some thoughts with you on these three themes and how they connect us to ourselves, our friends, and our wider world.
What We Have Achieved
As Santa Clara continues to recover from the recession, we have seen our endowment dramatically restore its losses and our fundraising regain significant traction. Given this greater stability, on Friday, 14 February, the Trustees passed another balanced budget, but one that happily includes a 3% merit pool increase for faculty and staff salaries. I am very pleased with this progress to compensate your hard work with an enhanced merit pool. Thanks go out to Bob Warren and his team for all their work in preparing a sound budget for the next fiscal year.
Other signs of recovery and progress come in the form of greater gifts to the University:
All of these gifts stand as a testament to the hard work and persistence of the staff in the Development Office, for which I am extremely grateful.
Other achievements also warrant our recognition today.
The momentum of progress continues, and I could give many other examples. Our combined efforts of faculty, staff, students, friends, and benefactors have kept Santa Clara thriving, building, hiring, and aspiring to be more.
How We Have Faced Issues
This past Friday, members of the Faculty Senate Council sat down to lunch with the Board of Trustees. I initiated this custom several years ago to bring together members of both groups so they could become better acquainted with one another in a relaxed atmosphere. One trustee later wrote me about how much he had learned from his conversation with one of the faculty at his table. Reading that message I realized again how valuable these occasions are, for trustees to listen to faculty, and for faculty to hear from trustees.
Since then, Professor Julie Chang has announced her resignation as president of the Faculty Senate. I wish to express the gratitude of the University for her leadership this year and acknowledge her efforts to be fair and impartial to all points of view. I believe that it is appropriate and fitting for us to recognize her service and to thank her.
Since 3 October, I have learned a great deal about shared governance and the history of how it has been lived at Santa Clara. I have come to understand far better the nuances and dynamics of the processes involved. I also have discovered the depth to which so many of you are committed to Santa Clara and its values of inclusion, respect, dialogue, justice, and care for our students, staff, and faculty. This is home for you, an intellectual home, a place of welcome. In conversations with many of you, I have heard voiced a concern for restoring trust and for reaffirming long-cherished Jesuit values of education.
You have heard of or read my renewal of commitment to the processes of shared governance. In addition, my administration has commenced lunches with members of the faculty and staff to listen carefully and discuss how we wish to see Santa Clara move forward. I have been meeting with individuals one-on-one in sessions that are deeply illuminating. My staff and I have seriously reflected on the WASC interim report, particularly the section on shared governance. One welcome suggestion is to hold an all-day off-site retreat with faculty, staff and administrators who hold leadership roles in shared governance. Guided by a facilitator, we shall respectfully and candidly address the issues that we face. We shall hold that meeting and adhere to its conclusions.
Throughout the dialogues and debates, there are times we may be discouraged or wearied by the challenges we face. In times such as these, I often find that poetry offers some consolation or encouragement, some insight or new perspective. Most recently I read the Irish poet, Seamus Heaney, in his version of the ancient Greek play, Philoctetes, by Sophocles. Heaney considered the nature of human conflict but wrote:
"But then, once in a lifetime
New Life. Voices that are heard. Belief in change. Hope. Hope that rhymes with our lived history, bumpy as that history might be. As we continue to dialogue, to find ways to work together, then our hope and history will rhyme again. We shall move forward, not alone or isolated, but in partnership, and, as we have worked through past differences, together we can - and shall - do so again.
Where We Are Headed: Integrated Strategic Plan
Since the adoption of the University’s Strategic Plan in 2011, extensive study and consultation have gone into bringing greater clarity and specificity to our dreams. Over 50 faculty and staff invested hundreds of hours last academic year in identifying concrete objectives and critical components to realize six strategic goals. These sessions lead to a bold, aspirational Integrated Strategic Plan that combined and coordinated the results of the Enrollment, Facilities, and Strategic Plans. The Provost and I presented successive drafts to small groups of the Trustees that resulted in an enthusiastic endorsement of the direction by the full Board at its October 2013 meeting.
The Integrated Strategic Plan emphasizes the distinctive and transformative educational experience that is the hallmark of Santa Clara University. It underscores the Jesuit value of preparing women and men for others, as together we work to fashion a more humane, just and sustainable world. The plan also identifies key areas where Santa Clara can be truly excellent and stand as a leader in higher education. It also challenges us to continue building a more diverse and inclusive community, and it addresses how we can make a Santa Clara education more affordable.
1. Targeted Discussions within Disciplinary Clusters
2. Reveal of Comprehensive Plan
3. Theme Discussions
Through this and other theme-based discussions, we shall continue to refine the specific actions and initiatives needed to place Santa Clara University in the forefront of American higher education. We are taking the bold step to harness our ideals with the energy of Silicon Valley’s spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship. We shall leverage our values and expand our impact in the lives of our students for the benefit of our world.
Parallel to these planning sessions, two other initiatives have been underway. In spring of last year, I convened a blue-ribbon committee on athletics to address the question: what is the appropriate role of intercollegiate athletics at Santa Clara University for the students, the campus community, and for alumni and friends? The twelve-member committee of Trustees, Regents, alumni, parents, friends, and faculty took its mission seriously. Working with a collegiate sports consultant, the task force gathered and analyzed data, and presented me with a well reasoned set of recommendations. This document is under examination to determine its feasibility before I present it for review by the Athletics Advisory Board in May, and then to the Trustees in June for their consideration.
A second initiative commenced this fall, and that is the renewed preparation for the upcoming comprehensive fundraising campaign. Through the leadership of Jim Lyons, our new Vice President of University Relations, open positions are being filled, other posts reallocated, dozens of meetings have been held with friends and benefactors, and the timeline and strategies for the campaign developed. A strategic marketing plan is in the works, along with a robust donor relationship management system and a campaign education program. It has been an amazing four months for Jim Lyons. I am very pleased by the enthusiastic responses of the Trustees and Regents with the direction of the Integrated Strategic Plan and with the new energy in University Relations.
Let me close with memories of two different events I attended in the past month. On 10 February, Jeanne Rosenberger and I drove to Pleasanton for the standing-room only memorial service for one of our alumni. Phil Scholz was a widely involved student leader during his undergraduate years as a member of the class of 2001. Phil died at the Santa Clara train station when he rescued a man who was on the train tracks. Phil saved that man’s life, and the oncoming train took Phil’s. The eulogies for Phil brought tears to my eyes, such as when his mother remembered her son. Other speakers described this hero and how he had lived his life at Santa Clara and in the years that followed. All of them concluded that Phil acted true to his character when he risked his life to save the life of a stranger.
Like you, one of my greatest pleasures at Santa Clara comes from watching our students perform, on the field or court, in the theatre, or on the dance floor. On 17 January I found myself smiling while I attended a performance of “Charisma” in the Fess Parker Theatre, that included acting, singing, and dancing. A “spoken word” presentation caught my attention, “Waiting, Knowing, Sharing,” by senior Tennyson W. Jones (a theatre major, Student Ambassador in the Admissions office, and former summer Orientation leader). His piece focused on connections: with one’s own self, with friends, and with others. He stated,
"Create a connection
One that allows for reflection
Knowing that you have a story
That connection will only assemble that story
Create a platform for that story to stand on
To build on
To build up…" 4
Such are our stories at Santa Clara. We build on the platform of our values, and we build up our students to be heroes and leaders. Quoting Tennyson Jones and remembering Phil Scholz remind us that such persons are the Who and the Why of our commitment to Santa Clara. Whom do we serve? Why are we here? We work to change lives so that students in turn will connect – with themselves, with ideas, and with the world. We want to hear the needs and stories of others so that we can live more respectfully and create a home where all are welcome. We labor to change the world for the better, so that hope and history rhyme.
These ideals motivate us to live our commitment to our values, to face our differences, and to achieve even more for Santa Clara. I thank you for your presence here this afternoon. I thank you for all you do: for our students, for Santa Clara, and our world. The future beckons us forward, and I am grateful for all we do together to achieve our aspirations.
Thank you again.
1. William J. Rewak, SJ, “The A to Z’s of Being a Perfect College President,” Commonweal, 124 (7 November 1997), p. 47.
2. Quoted in Rob Asghar, “The Toughest Leadership Job of All (It’s Not What You Think),” 15 November 2013, at www.forbes.com/sites/robasghar/2013/11/15/the-toughest-leadership-job-of-all-its-not-what-you-think/print/
3. Seamus Heaney, The Cure at Troy: A Version of Sophocles’s Philoctetes (London: Faber and Faber Ltd., 1991), 77-78.
4. Tennyson W. Jones, “Waiting, Knowing Sharing – Spoken Word,” (typescript from the author, January 2014), 1.